Toll Free Number

Some consider the telephone number to be an old fashioned tool of low tech. In fact, it so old school that many of today’s biggest web operators do not even offer an option to be contacted by phone.

Try calling Amazon, for example. Go ahead and look.

You will find there is no way to get hold of them by phone. Customers, sellers, suppliers — nobody but nobody can reach out and touch someone at Amazon. It is part of their strategy. (Amazon has no competition, either. Why would they need to answer phones?)

Using a phone is downright hard these days for some people.

A few years back I was leading a team of developers on a project. Most of those working for me were young and still going to school. That’s code for they all grew up with the Internet and were born, ironically, with a phone in their hand.

In trying to overcome an obstacle on the project I suggested in a meeting that we just call a vendor to address the issue. A discussion then ensued about who could make the phone call.

I couldn’t believe it.

There is a real fear of phones out there, especially with Millennials. That’s not a general, blanket statement, folks. It’s the truth.

I have Millennial children and nothing strikes greater fear in them than having to call in for a pizza. Why call when there’s an app for that?

Once upon a time The Atlantic did a feature on Christmas websites and they mentioned ours because we have a toll-free number. For that feature they called us “weirdos”.

I tried calling them to discuss the issue. Alas, no one at The Atlantic would answer the phone. (Ironically, when the media needs a Christmas expert they look at the toll free number and call me directly. Funny.)

The fear of engaging by phone is extended by the notion that putting a phone number on a website means a business could be flooded with calls.

Why would customers calling with questions be a problem — especially if they are calling in droves?

I consider a phone number customer service. The shortest distance between sales and profit is the ability of customers to get what they want.

If they are truly interested in what you have to offer they will want to talk about it — to a person.

Imagine it: a customer who is ready to buy just needs to talk to someone. Why wouldn’t you pick up the phone for that?

In developing e-Commerce sites the number one complaint I get from customers is an inability to ask questions or to connect with someone about a product. A phone number solves that.

Some believe an email, usually generated by an online form, is a better way to connect with customers.

Many companies work hard at crafting canned responses and measuring response time to incoming emails. But no matter what steps are taken it’s just too slow for buyers.

In this Internet-driven world of business these days email is just too slow. The phone is instant.

Of course, having a phone number means answering the call.

It means engaging with people warmly and professionally. It means having top-of-the-head knowledge of your products and services. It means responding quickly and closing the sale.

All of that requires skills. Skills that are, sadly, becoming more and more obsolete as the giants of industry ditch the phones.

Don’t do it.

Put a phone number on your site, preferrably an 800-number. It gives your business instant credibility and builds trust. Customers want to interact with you. And many want to do it by phone.

After all, more than two thirds of them (or better) are looking at your website on a phone. It’s just too easy for them to click on a number and connect with you from what they are holding in their hands.

Give them what they want: instant access and instant answers.

Your bottom line will thank you.